Pharmacy testing less accurate than assessment centres

swab testing

Pharmacy testing for COVID-19 is less accurate according to Niagara's top doctor. 

If you're one of those people who have a loved one in long term care you've likely been tested a lot for COVID-19.

In an effort to get the backlog of COVID-19 assessment centre testing under control,  the province brought in pharmacy testing for those who don't have symptoms but need the tests to comply with LTC guidelines. 

Both tests require a nose swab, but one test reaches far up into the nasal cavity while the pharmacy test takes a quick swab in both nostrils causing little discomfort. 

Niagara's Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji admits the pharmacy test is less accurate. 

"There are other ways to test a sample where you just swab at least part of the nose, or swabbing the throat, it's a little less accurate that way and I think some pharmacies have been doing those samples rather than doing the gold standard that you find at our regional assessment centres." 

Hirji says those being tested at pharmacies are generally low risk of being infected and the test is just being done to rule it out.  

Long term care facilities in Niagara require a negative covid test by essential caregivers to visit their loved ones, often times entering facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks.